There are specific annual celebrations such as ANZAC, Australia Day and the Queen’s Birthday, Clean-up Australia Day - where national reflection is associated with “doing our bit”.
“Doing our bit” in Australia is a much loved passion and maintains many of Australia's best loved activities from surf life saving, SES, Rural Fire, Volunteer Marine Rescue, sport, cultural pursuits, transport-travel information and not least Christian mission.
Doing our bit is so much part of the nation's fabric that if you're above a certain age without employment and can demonstrate you're able to do-a-bit with a recognised organisation you will receive a Centrelink payment equivalent to someone seeking paid employment.
Former Australian treasurer Peter Costello had highlighted that the census added a question to find out how many Australians engage in such activities. Overall, one in five Australians engages in this kind of thing for an organisation or group. There is a vast, unpaid workforce in our society doing their bit in community organisations and in turn building community.
This came up at the recent Australasian Religious Press Association conference in September (Brisbane) where this unpaid workforce has such an impact on the positives in Australia.
In my view the actual figures of people doing their bit is higher. There are a lot of young people who do their bit in personal and private ways, without necessarily joining an organisation. More importantly, what of those who do their bit in service through Christian churches and missions.
Christians not only have a proclivity to do their bit in service to their Lord and Saviour, they are enthusiastic about becoming personally involved.
These are a few examples of roles in the local church: gardening and lawns, cleaning up the surrounds and the church, the kitchen and toilets, run Play Groups, after school Kids’ clubs, youth programs, mid-week home groups and bible studies, prayer meetings, the endless administration meetings, and so on and so forth.
Then there is another group of Christians doing their bit from local churches who play vital roles in the community; those who visit shut-ins, help the disabled with grocery shopping, run worship services in nursing homes and similar elderly constructs, visiting the sick (both short or long term illness) in their homes or hospitals, transport help to and from doctors or medical centres, visiting new mothers, casseroles or cakes to new street residents or parishioners, and many other unseen caring acts of support.
Missions and non-Government agencies
Missions and non-Government registered Church welfare arms also have armies of people doing-their-bit who provide a wide array of help from enveloping mail-outs, performing administration duties, answering telephone inquiries, providing encouragement and support, helping with outreaches, mentoring and transport. Overarching all this, there is the universal sacrificial financial giving within a Christian congregation.
In 1982 Dr David Milikan a Uniting Church minister who at one time headed up the ABC Religion Department, wrote the book, 'A Sunburnt Soul' and his statistic that has never been disputed, highlighted the Christian contribution to the Australian society, that of 82% of all welfare.
Peter Costello who has become an occasional columnist since leaving Federal politics made the point that the Commonwealth could not financially survive should the public purse have to pay every one of those 'one in five Australians' who do their bit, let alone those from local congregations listed above.
Great for stress
Doing your bit is also one of the 'satisfying' ingredients identified by John Mark Ministries' Reverend Dr Rowland Croucher, in areas such as 'ministry stress'. He counsels Christian leaders who are overwhelmed in their ministry, to do their bit outside their ministry as it is therapeutic.
Between the years 1982-2000 the Lord led me to establish the national Sports and Leisure Ministry (now Sports Chaplaincy Australia) which culminated with 250 people 'doing their bit', made up of 150 clergy serving part-time as sports chaplains to Australia's professional sports, along with 100 ministry helpers and Christian athletes engaged in mentoring.
It proved to be a tonic for each of them as they were able to minister alongside a broad range of people, each with their own experiences, needs and joys.
At this time, therefore might be just the year to plan ahead to do your bit, or if you already are doing your bit, encourage others to do their 'bit' and enjoy being 'salt' in the nation.
Young people 18-30 years interested in writing for Christian Today with your own column and wanting to do “your bit” towards the betterment of our society, please connect with Dr Mark Tronson firstname.lastname@example.org 0419 917 713
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html